LIVINGSTON COUNTY – On Monday and Tuesday, new recruits from nine of nineteen local volunteer fire companies in Livingston County completed the last basic physical and academic tests required by New York State to enter a burning structure and fight a fire.
The 3-month, 103-hour course taught by New York State Fire Instructor Bob Lennington is designed to prepare new recruits for the physical danger and problem solving involved in entering a burning building. This year’s graduates range in age from 18 to 56 and come from a wide variety of volunteer and professional experience.
“I was an officer with the Rochester Police Department before joining the Army and becoming military police and civil affairs in Iraq,” said Tom Rutherford, 56, a new graduate with the Livonia Fire Department. “I’m addicted to honor, dignity and adventure. It’s all a similar mindset, you wear protective gear to go into dangerous situations to help people.”
Experienced firefighters who have been through the wringer said that the course starts out hard and gets harder. Recruits have to handle hoses that are ‘charged,’ or full of water, force entry to training structures, and search for dummy ‘victims’ in a monitored room full of burning palates, all while ‘on air,’ or breathing with an oxygen tank.
“You have to carry a 50-foot hose bundle up stairs, drag a 75-pound charged hose, pull a 50-foot hose off of the truck, drag tools, force entry with a sledge hammer, push a hooked tool through a ceiling, and drag a 165-pound dummy, all within 10 minutes and on air,” said Holly Batzel, an Avon firefighter. “If time runs out or you run out of air, you fail. That’s day three. This is the starting point for every other advanced course.”
The course also has a rigorous academic curriculum with a 1,600 page textbook and tests and quizzes every week. After completing Monday’s physical tests, the recruits completed a written exam from New York State and became certified to enter a burning structure.
All firefighters in Livingston County are volunteers who live in the town of their fire department.
The GeneseeSun.com congratulates 2015’s graduates and thanks them for volunteering to keep our communities safer.